Looking back, first-generation Korean-American Jonathan Yong Kim ’16 knows he would have gone into medicine eventually. But his childhood aspiration was to grow up to be a soldier. In high school, when he heard about the U.S. Navy SEALS, an elite military special operations unit, he knew that’s what he wanted to become. At the time, he says, he didn’t realize it would lead him to his true calling.
After high school, Kim served for seven years as a Navy SEAL, specializing in trauma medicine during two tours of duty in Iraq. While in Iraq, he earned a Bronze Star for saving a wounded fellow service member and a Silver Star for saving the life of a wounded Iraqi soldier. As a medic, or corpsman in Navy terminology, his role was to stabilize the injured until they could receive a higher level of care.
It was in a combat hospital where he watched the military surgeons save lives that Kim says he became inspired to become a physician. With help from military benefits and scholarships, Kim attended the University of San Diego and is now a fourth-year student at HMS, planning to go into emergency medicine.
Kim is currently mentoring fellow veterans and is passionate about helping veterans who want to get into medical school. He hopes to do more mentoring and recently joined Service to School, a nonprofit founded by veterans with the mission of helping vets gain admission to college and graduate school. Kim says he would like to spend more time in the future addressing veterans’ health care issues.
“I know of service members who have fallen through the cracks of our health care system,” Kim says. “As a fellow service member, I am committed to reducing these disparities so our veterans can receive the care they deserve.”
Image: John Soares